Aquaculture for all

Fish in the sea could soon just be a memory

NEW ZEALAND - The fisheries Quota Management System has been a failure and the 20th anniversary of its introduction should not be a time of celebration, says the Green Party.

"Since the introduction of the QMS New Zealand's fish stocks have declined to a point where some have already collapsed and others are on the verge," Fisheries Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"This system has major flaws. For example it is completely dependent on good research about the health of the fish stocks. But for 80 percent of the landings, no-one knows whether the fish stock is healthy enough for a sustainable harvest or not. Continuing to allow quota to be taken out of the sea, with so little information is entirely irresponsible.

"Another flaw is that the cost of research on fish stock health is recovered from the industry. The industry doesn't want to fund research that might tell them they have to cut back on their total allowable catch, because the stocks are depleted.

"Part of the problem is that the QMS is seen as an absolute property right with very few controls. As a result we have a few very powerful fishing interests who dominate the industry and who fight against every step towards sustainability.

"That attitude is evidenced by their opposition to the Fisheries Amendment Bill, which will make clear the Minister's power to make decisions in favour of sustainability when the information is unclear or uncertain.

"The long term health of the fishing industry is absolutely dependent on the QMS being subject to sustainability measures. Otherwise a few will profit from the short term exploitation of this critical resource.

"The QMS is only one tool for the sustainable management of the collective resource that is our New Zealand fisheries. It has been wrongly elevated to the primary and almost exclusive tool. Other measures are necessary to manage the fish stocks.

"We have already severely depleted Orange Roughy stocks and Hoki numbers are rapidly declining. If we continue to behave in this way there will be no more fish in the sea let alone on our plates."

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